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Zephyr Project Tested on Safety, Security, and Utility for Healthcare Devices

By Special Guest
Reece Loftus
January 27, 2021

As one of the largest homes for collaboration on open-source software, the Linux Foundation is continually developing a plethora of projects that are often integral to world infrastructure. Amongst these sizeable productions is The Zephyr™ Project, an open-source project that features a flexible real-time operating system (RTOS) for the Internet of Things (IoT) in resource-constrained devices. The project has recently been enhanced through the announcement of new members as well as the incorporation of advanced automation tools intrinsic to improving the Zephyr build infrastructure. These tools are a precursor to the project's first safety certification later this year.

"For software to be considered dependable and trusted in safety-critical applications, rigorous testing and analysis is essential," said Kate Stewart, Vice President of Dependable Embedded Systems at the Linux Foundation. "Zephyr is being used today in wearables and other products with constrained environments and is under consideration for applications that require safety certification. By taking Zephyr through the IEC 61508 certification process, the project will improve its infrastructure, testing, and traceability, so that other developers easily replicate the certification process."

Mark Lambert, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Parasoft, adds to the importance of safety for Zephyr, stating, "As these devices expand their reach, it's critical that they're safe and secure. We're excited to be contributing to this amazing change as a new member of the Zephyr Project, provisioning our automated software testing solutions and assisting with safety certification."

Parasoft recently became a new member of the Zephyr Project along with Baylibre and Memfault. By utilizing Parasoft's automated software testing tools, Zephyr will be able to ensure high-quality throughout use in addition to Parasoft C/C++ test utility, helping to create a more efficient development process by replacing manual tasks such as testing with a reliable analytics platform. The inclusion will expedite the development of Zephyr by enhancing its capabilities and empowering member companies to focus more on differentiated solutions such as healthcare.

Oticon, a platinum member of the Zephyr Project, have used Zephyr in the development of connected healthcare wearable Oticon More. This unique and scalable hearing aid enables users to hear sound through means of an on-board Deep Neural Network, which is powered by the Polaris platform, also designed by Oticon. The hearing aid was developed in collaboration with Nordic Semiconductor and utilizes the Zephyr RTOS for integrating Bluetooth LE connectivity for the wearable device, resulting in an advanced medical product that aims to improve quality of life for millions of people suffering from hearing impairments.

The Zephyr Project is also heavily involved in oral health, facilitating the use of Zephyr OS in Grush, which utilizes advanced Bluetooth motion-sensing within toothbrushes that couples with a mobile game that motivates children to brush their teeth thoroughly and transmits results to parents. Zephyr was used for Grush as an OS that is able to gather sensor data, communicate with processors, as well as process complex algorithms, whilst allowing sufficient memory to be allocated to the application. As an open-source, small, and scalable RTOS, Zephyr's efficiency allowed Grush developers to maximize the effectiveness of their product, as well as its multithreading capabilities enabling Grush to collect sensor data, run algorithms, and communicate with a smartphone reliably at the same time for a seamless experience.

Last year, the Zephyr Project Safety Working Group created a set of rules for the code release that aims to increase reliability, readability, and maintainability. With stricter coding guidelines and the automation tool, Zephyr will be on track to launch a certified code base for the next Long-Term Support (LTS) release in Spring 2021.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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